Hormone replacement therapy uses female hormones to replace the amount of estrogen when the body is unable to make enough, especially after menopause. A woman can have hormone replacement therapy to reduce the distressing symptoms of menopause like hot flashes. Hormonal treatment should be individualized because different women have different needs. Hormone replacement therapy can also have side effects.
Consulting an experienced Dr. Tanya Lawson ND will help choose a hormone replacement therapy that will work best for you and have fewer side effects. The doctor will take your medical history and conduct a physical examination for a diagnosis. The doctor may then order some laboratory tests that will show what your body requires.
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Types of Hormone Replacement Therapy
There are different types of hormone replacement therapy, and each comes with its side effect profile. Two basic types of hormone therapy are systemic hormone therapy and low-dose vaginal products. Systemic hormone therapy provides systemic estrogen, which can be in the form of pills, ring, gel, skin patch, or spray.
Systemic hormone therapy has a high dose of estrogen. The estrogen in the systemic hormone therapy is absorbed in the entire body and helps relieve the menopause symptoms by replacing estrogen during menopause. Low-dose vaginal products provide a less amount of estrogen in the body, and they only treat the urinary and vaginal menopause symptoms.
The vaginal products come in creams, tablets, or rings. The estrogen hormonal therapy is combined with progesterone when you have your uterus intact. This is because progesterone reverses the effects of estrogen on the endometrial layer of the uterus, which causes it to enlarge. Enlargement of the endometrial thickness can cause endometrial cancer. Progestins are not required for women who do not have a uterus.
Is Hormone Replacement Therapy Safe?
Hormone replacement therapy can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, breast cancer, and blood clots. These side effects are more common if you start using hormone replacement therapy after 60 years. You are also more likely to experience these side effects if you start using hormone therapy more than ten years after you start menopause.
The risks of hormone therapy increase when estrogen is administered alone to women who still have their uterus. If you have a family history of heart disease or stroke, you are more likely to experience the side effects of hormone therapy.
Who Needs Hormone Replacement Therapy?
Hormone replacement therapy benefits women who are experiencing hot flashes and night sweats after menopause. Hormone replacement therapy also helps women who have itchiness and dryness that interferes with sexual intercourse. Hormone replacement therapy also prevents bone fractures and bone loss that is caused by osteoporosis during menopause.
Women who have their uterus removed before menopause also benefit from hormone therapy to prevent menopause symptoms. Hormone therapy also helps women who suffer from estrogen deficiency and reduces the risk of stroke, dementia, and mood changes due to premature menopause.
Hormone replacement therapy can be given systemically or locally to replace estrogen in the body that is lost when a woman reaches menopause. Hormone therapy also benefits women who have premature menopause due to the removal of the uterus due to estrogen deficiency. Some of the side effects of hormone therapy include stroke and blood clotting, especially in women above 60 years and those with a family history of these conditions.